ACLU of New Jersey files brief in strip-search case before U.S. Supreme Court

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey is opposing blanket strip search policies at state jails.  Monday the N.J. ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ACLU of New Jersey’s Alexander Shalom said not everyone needs to strip searched, like the case of a man who was sent to jail, after police learned there was a warrant for his arrest for an unpaid traffic ticket.     “As it turns out, the ticket had been dismissed two years earlier.  But none the less they brought Albert Florence to the Burlington County Jail, ordered him to squat naked while standing in front of prison guards, lift his genitals.  he spent five days in the Burlington County Jail and then he was sent subsequently to the Essex County Jail and he was also subjected to the indignity of a strip search there.”In February 2009, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the strip search violated the U.S. Constitution, saying before a strip search can occur, there must be reasonable suspicion that contraband will be found on a person arrested on non-indictable offenses. 

Officials with Burlington and Essex counties appealed that decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which acknowledged the intrusiveness of the search, but rejected a reasonable suspicion standard.  That court held that blanket strip search policies are not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

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